Guide to Social Distancing

This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living at home, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

If people go within two metres of others who they don't live with, then they're helping to spread the virus - and the consequences of that costs lives and it means that, for everyone, this will go on for longer." Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health

If you can't stay in your home and you're getting exercise by walking locally, queuing for a supermarket or doing something else that is permitted within the below instructions keep at least 6 feet, (2 metres), away from the next person - which is about the same distance as you holding a broom with a straightened arm. By keeping this distance you reduce your risk of getting infected, and reduce your risk of infecting others. You can read any changes made to the legislation here.

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS. As we move into step two of our plan to rebuild, the most important thing we can continue to do is to stay alert, control the virus, and, in doing so, save lives.

This guidance applies in England – people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Irelandshould follow the specific rules in those parts of the UK.

At this stage, from Monday 1st June:

  • You can spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines

  • You should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law

  • More shops are beginning to reopen, with a plan for more to do so later in the month

  • Children in early years (age 0-5), reception, year 1 and year 6 can return to childcare or school in line with the arrangements made by their school

  • You can be tested as part of the test and trace programme, which will enable us to return to normal life as soon as possible, by helping to control transmission risks

This plan is dependent on us continuing to successfully control the spread of the virus. If the evidence does not show sufficient progress is being made in controlling the virus to justify the easements, then the proposed lifting of restrictions may have to be delayed until such a time as it is safe to do so. If, after lifting restrictions, the government sees a concerning rise in the infection rate, then it may have to re-impose some restrictions in as targeted a way as possible.

That is why you should stay alert and follow social distancing guidelines. You must not:

  • gather in groups of more than six people with people you do not live with

  • visit friends or family inside their home or any other indoor place

  • stay away from your own home overnight, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes

This guidance explains the measures that will help you to stay alert and safe as we continue to respond to the challenges of coronavirus. Key parts of these measures are underpinned by law, which sets out clearly what you must and must not do – every person in the country must continue to comply with this. The relevant authorities, including the police, have the powers to enforce the law – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about what you should and should not do during the coronavirus outbreak on our FAQs page.

If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating, you should stay at home - this is critical to staying safe and saving lives.

This government guide provides the latest information about social distancing, with particular advice, including about self-isolation, for those who are at increased risk of severe illness - for example people over 70 years of age, those who are pregnant and those with certain underlying health conditions.

There is also specific guidance on social distancing for young people.